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A Message to Hollywood From 1989

8 Aug, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

This weekend I had an opportunity to get a look at some of the bonus features that will be present on the “Legacy Series” special edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, streeting Sept. 6 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Gregory Peck won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in this 1962 classic. It was the defining role for the great actor and etched him into our memories as a man who represents the better part of ourselves in a world that too often pressures one into a certain bending one's values to get along or get ahead.

As I listened to Peck's 1989 acceptance speech for his American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, in which he cast a critical eye on the state of films and the business of Hollywood, I couldn't help but think about the current buzz about the general lack of interest among moviegoers for what Hollywood is producing these days. Perhaps we ought to heed Mr. Peck's advice when he says instead of Hollywood's focus on box office receipts, “I would like to hear some talk about elevating the quality of films and television.”

He went on to quote T.S. Eliot about creating art and entertainment that “enlarges the sympathies” (we can all do with a little of that) and stimulates the mind and spirit. Then he admonished Hollywood by adding…

“Making millions is not the whole ballgame, fellas. Pride of workmanship is worth more. Artistry is worth more. The human imagination is a priceless resource. The public is ready for the best you can give them. It just may be that you can make a buck and at the same time encourage, foster and commission work of quality and originality.”

Seems like words Hollywood's leaders ought to keep in mind today.

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